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Interior design – big picture vs tiny details

CushionsThis week I’ve been stuck in the detail.  Assessing BTUs for radiator output on one project and analysing the difference 6mm toughened glass will have over 10mm toughened glass for another.

However, on the whole, I think interior designers are seen as big picture thinkers – the overall scheme, how colours make you feel, how fabulous cushions are, etc etc…  Kevin McCloud was rather vile about us in an old episode of Grand Designs I watched this week, but I was rather proud of my profession when the house builder and interior designer, Kathryn Tyler, turned out to be, not only an exceptional interior designer, but also a worthy interior architect and an incredibly impressive project manager.

Are you a big picture thinker or more details oriented?  It’s a question I ask on my initial client questionnaire for a reason – I like to understand which elements of the job to share with them to keep them in the loop.  Do they want to know fabric quantities and lead-times are they happy with overall figures and a room that’ll be ready to walk into when they get back from holiday?

Interior design has, in truth, a pendulum like relationship with both the big picture and details.

Are you a natural interior designer?  Let’s see.

  1. Can you understand the big picture of how someone feels about their space?  (Light and airy with a hint of Rome).
  2. Can you drill down and find the specifics of what they need to live with? (A place for handbags, shoes and designer dog leads).
  3. Can you take accurate measurements of a room and input that data into a technical drawing?
  4. Can you then ‘play with the space’ to make the house breathe and flow?
  5. Can you be big enough to appreciate that modern day life revolves around a TV (and/or the X-box?) and still  position the room in a way that houses the gadgets without impacting the flow?
  6. Can you create a colour scheme that can work three different ways to allow for client input?  Can you understand that some people will almost break down if you show them too many options?
  7. Can you let go of your love of tailored silk furniture because you know your client has three cats?
  8. Can you accept an item from their past and make it work in your contemporary scheme?
  9. Can you calculate fabric requirements, textile suitability, and juggle the budget without losing the essence of the scheme?
  10. Can you place orders, organise tradesmen, keep on top of the schedule and point out all the snagging while still keeping everyone smiling?

PainterWould interior design suit you?

No day is the same.  Do you love variety?

No job is the same. Do you love variety?

No client can be predicted.  Do you love variety?

Personally, I love the balance between the science and management of the process and the art and psychology of keeping everyone happy and ensuring creativity flows.

If you’re interested in the subject, I’d recommend KLC School of Design in Chelsea Harbour for a fantastic education or take a full degree if you’ve got the time to do so.  I’d also recommend belonging to an association such as the British Institute of Interior Design,because despite Mr McCloud’s pokes and prods, we are professional through and through.  Even if we do love our cushions…


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